In April 2015, we released our first Practice Platform dashboard to help our Partners manage their bookkeeping workflows. Even in this embryonic form, it had a number of really important metrics to gauge client performance.
Some of these metrics immediately leapt out to our partners, and have continued to do so; particularly Outstanding Workload, Inbox Age and Hands Free. Since then we’ve added in Missing Paperwork, Mobile Users and Outstanding Paperwork which have all been just as popular.
Sitting in the background, largely overlooked but quietly the most important of the metrics available (at least so I’d like to suggest), has been Client Delay. Waiting for its time to step out into the limelight and shine.
WHAT IS CLIENT DELAY?
Client Delay is the average amount of days between when a client receives an item, an invoice or receipt, and when they subsequently submit it to their bookkeeper. In an age of mobile-first technology which allows clients to submit photos of items immediately, to forward emails automatically and to have constant access to funny cat videos, this is a metric with huge scope for improvement.
It’s the implications of the Client Delay metric that make it so powerful. If a client has a delay of 15 days (3 days better than average!) then come end-of-month, after having paid, reconciled and stored everything they’ve submitted, you’ll still have to wait 15 days before that month is closed off.
If they come to a deadline then that means you’ll have to chase that client for 15 days worth of items, literally ½ of the client’s monthly bookkeeping. That’s a lot of hounding that neither the client nor you enjoys. Not to mention that it puts a huge strain on the customer experience and client relationship.
THE BAD NEWS
Then there are the lead-on effects. If you, or the client, want to do financial reporting then all that data is also 15 days behind. How good can the advisory & accounting be if the data’s over 2 weeks out of date?
Not only that, but if a client has a higher delay, the metrics show that they’re also going to be far more likely to be missing items entirely. Receipts in wallets or on the floors of cars have those 18 days to get lost under seats, blown away, or have coffee spilt all over them.
Counter to this, clients with really low delays, 0-2 days on average, are highly likely to not misplace items and get all of them across to you. Once someone gets in the habit of receiving a receipt and taking a photo as soon as they do so, of getting an email invoice and forwarding it straight on, then it’s ingrained. Then it becomes habitual and then those items never have time to go missing.
LOW DELAYS MEAN HAPPY CLIENTS
Clients with a low delay - who have real time data and aren’t being chased - report a much higher customer satisfaction. This seems fairly self-evident but in a market where 89% of businesses expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator (source: Gartner) and 80% of new clients should come from referrals (source: Intuit) improving your client experience is key!
Source: Receipt Bank’s measured NPS data, showing how likely clients are to recommend their service.
MORE PROMOTERS = MORE GROWTH
One of Receipt Bank’s partners in Sydney, Kevin San, had clients whose Client Delay was down to one day. By having these up-to-date metrics they had a complete picture of exactly how well the clients were doing, and were able to do weekly A/B tests around considerations such as opening hours, locations and ingredients.
This resulted in some awesome wins for their clients, such as a cafe becoming far more profitable by changing their opening hours and a paella stand company who grew from four to seven locations in three months.
It’s these implications that make Client Delay such an important thing to not just be measuring, but to then be utilising. Clients with high delays won’t be doing it by choice. The advantages to improving it are for them as much as for you. There’s a reason that we see clients who use the available mobile technology also score as being happier with their bookkeeper.
HOW DO YOU GET CLIENTS ONSIDE?
As Noel Tiufino recently said on a panel at one of our events, the first step is to improvement is measurement. Secondly, as I hope I’ve shown, improving Client Delay is in the best interest of your clients. All you need to do is outline the advantages of real-time submissions – not needing to hold onto items, not losing them or being chased for them – and real-time data.
Looking at the statistics, clients who don’t use the Receipt Bank mobile app have an average delay of 20 days. This drops to 5 days for those who do have it. For clients who aren’t yet using the app, the most successful strategy I’ve seen is to take them out for a coffee, pay and get the receipt. Then right in front of them, there and then, use the app to take a photo of the receipt. Demonstrate how easy it is and how beneficial it can be for your clients!
In this new era of cloud technology, client experience and the rise of advisory services, Client Delay is so important. Leverage it to empower your firm!
LEARN HOW TO BETTER TRACK YOUR CLIENTS
Keeping tabs on your clients can be a frustrating task – particularly when you feel as if you don't have all the tools you need.
Our guide The Ideal Client equips you with the knowledge and skills to better understand your client metrics, and start finding the clients that are right for your practice.
You'll find out:
- Which clients are really slowing down your business
- How to create a client strategy that boosts your efficiency
- The warning signs for clients you should drop now